I am excited to share my interview with April Yamasaki.
April Yamasaki is a writer of books and blogs on spiritual growth and Christian living, and Resident Author with Valley CrossWay Church (starting January 2019). She is an ordained minister with over twenty-five years experience in congregational ministry, and speaks widely in churches and other ministry settings.
Her writing has appeared online and in print for diverse publications, including Christian Century, Christianity Today, The Redbud Post, Godspace, Leader, Vision: A Journal for Church and Theology, and Rejoice! Her most recent book is Four Gifts: Seeking Self-Care for Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength (Herald Press, 2018).
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Now on to the interview!
Why did you write your newest book, Four Gifts: Seeking Self-Care for Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength?
In my own search for self-care, I discovered a wealth of practical resources on why self-care is important and how to find time for yourself. But I found relatively little that addressed my larger questions: How is self-care different from being selfish or self-indulgent? Is self-care the same as caring for your soul? What does self-care look like for those who follow Jesus, especially in light of his example of service and self-sacrifice, and his call for his followers to deny themselves? I wrote this book to explore these larger questions and to set out a Christ-centered framework for self-care.
What are some of the unexpected fruits you have experienced as a result of writing your newest book?
Writing this book helped me develop a bigger, Christ-centered vision for self-care that embraces loving God, loving others, while also caring for myself. I came to understand that at its best, self-care isn’t only about me, but includes caring for others and attending to my relationship with God. That’s the bigger vision I discovered as I researched, pondered, and wrote. And I hope that readers will also gain that bigger vision from reading Four Gifts, along with some practical ideas to live it out in real life.
What is prayer? How do you pray?
I’m continuing to learn that prayer is communion with God–in conversation and silence, in Scripture and song, in more formal liturgies and in my own words, in journaling or going for a walk, alone or with others, before meals and other set times and at any time at all. Prayer is praise and lament, praying for direction and praying for others. Prayer is all of these and more. These days I am most often drawn to pray in silence or with the words of Scripture.
What are some of your favorite book(s) and why?
I have so many favourite books for different reasons! In my reading this last year, three of my favourite books are:
(1) Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved by Kate Bowler, who shares her story of being diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. It’s personal, humorous, deeply reflective, and hopeful all at the same time.
(2) Beyond Colorblind: Redeeming Our Ethnic Journey by Sarah Shin, is a great primer on becoming more aware of the need for racial and cross-cultural reconciliation. I love her many stories of healing in race relationships and her practical suggestions.
(3) Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard, tells the story of how Much Afraid is transformed into Grace and Glory. This classic allegory was re-issued in a beautifully illustrated version.
Do you have any existing or upcoming projects that you wish to share?
Four Gifts includes questions for reflection and/or discussion that make the book well suited for group study, but I’ve also had inquiries for a group leader’s guide, so that’s one of my existing projects that will be completed soon. I’m also under contract for a book of sermons for Lent/Easter 2020 that’s due at the end of February 2019, plus I have some other writing assignments and speaking engagements. I completed my pastoral ministry at the end of November, and this month I will get to know another congregation in a new role as Resident Author. This will include some preaching, perhaps leading a small group, and other involvements that are still being discerned.
What is the best place for people to find you to learn more about you and your work?
I blog regularly about faith in everyday life on my website, aprilyamasaki.com, which also includes information on my publications and speaking. I’m happy to connect with people on Twitter and Facebook where there’s also a Facebook group for Four Gifts: Seeking Self-Care for Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength. I have a second website too that’s focused on When You Work for the Church: the good, the bad, and the ugly, and how we can all do better. Thank you so much for your interest and for your ministry.
Thank you for taking the time for this interview and for the wonderful work you do!
Books by April Yamasaki:
Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks – This is a great way to listen to books with your cell phone while you drive, walk or relax at home. I frequently listen in my car during my commute to and from work. I’m a proud affiliate.
Contemplative Light offers courses on contemplative practices (Christian Meditation, Centering Prayer, The Examen, Lectio Divina, The Jesus Prayer), the Christian mystics (ancient and current) and spiritual writing. Peruse their wonderful offerings.
A Simple Immediacy: Desert Wisdom for Advent by Cynthia Bourgeault: The Desert Fathers and Mothers of the fourth and fifth centuries are arguably the first Wisdom School in Christian history. At first in trickles and then in waves, they fled into the deserts of Egypt and Syria to escape the increasing imperialization of the Christian Church and to live in a simple immediacy with the Risen Christ. In the process, they generated an extraordinary body of practical teachings on the spiritual practices underlying this life of deeper awareness and mystical union.
Wisdom for Living: The Parables of Jesus by Thomas Keating, Contemplative Outreach: When rightly understood, the parables help us to see how extraordinary a wisdom teacher Jesus really was, and how revolutionary, in the best sense of the word, was the content of what he taught and to which he bore witness by his life and death.
Soulful Aging by Thomas Moore: As everyone knows, we are growing older all the time. But growing older is not the same as aging. Many people seem to grow older without going through the challenging life processes that make you a real person of substance and character. That kind of aging requires saying yes to the opportunities and difficult issues that life presents.
Drawing from the wisdom of monastic life, modern psychology and best practices in personal productivity, the Monk Manual provides a daily system that will help you find clarity, purpose, wisdom, and peace in the moments that make up your life.